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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

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Coral X-rays

3 minutes

Under a powerful X-ray laser, coral reveals weather patterns from centuries ago

Like rings on a tree, coral exoskeletons grow in layers, helping paleoclimatologists learn about weather trends and phenomena from as many as 500 years ago. When exposed to a synchrotron – one of the world’s most powerful X-ray machines – in a Stanford University lab, the coral’s secrets become even more pronounced, revealing weather patterns and ocean temperatures down to the week, and giving researchers a highly detailed and accurate look at weather over several centuries past.

Producer: Jason Jaacks

Website: Deep Look

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

Essay/Biology
The minds of plants

From the memories of flowers to the sociability of trees, the cognitive capacities of our vegetal cousins are all around us

Laura Ruggles

Essay/Earth Science
Life goes deeper

The Earth is not a solid mass of rock: its hot, dark, fractured subsurface is home to weird and wonderful life forms

Gaetan Borgonie & Maggie Lau